Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 37, A 25 Year Retrospective: BDP's "Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop" (1989)

After two straight classic albums in the form of "Criminal Minded" and "By All Means Necessary," Boogie Down Productions returned in 89 with their third album, "Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop."

Release date- June 28, 1989

All songs "Ghetto" produced by KRS-One

1. The Style You Haven't Done Yet

Pretty good, fast paced opener to kick things off, which finds KRS bringing it hip hop and reggae style.
Grade- B

2. Why Is That
"Information we get today is just wack"

This classic, complete with a fitting "boom bap" style beat, finds KRS asking thought provoking questions about religion, in this case about the Bible from an African American perspective. It may come off as a lecture of sorts, but the way he tells this story, or should I say "teaches" it is required listening.
*Grade- A+

3. The Blueprint

"Every lecture has texture"

One definition of "blueprint" is a detailed outline or plan of action," and that's what we get from KRS on this title track. Pretty good, simple, and effective.
*Grade- A

 4. Jack Of Spades

 Oh man, this classic right here brings back so many memories. Every time I watch the movie "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," a personal favorite of mine, I think of this song. Speaking of that movie, this was the theme song for Keenan Ivory Wayans' character Jack Spade and it worked SO well. 

"Jack, who are these guys (in reference to BDP)?" -John Slade
"This my theme music; every good hero should have some."  -Jack Spade

Grade- A+

5. Jah Rulez

Another very good song, but I feel this was more or less a showcase for guest Harmony, who did a nice job throughout.
 Grade- B

6. Breath Control

KRS does display good breath control on this beat boxed laced track, courtesy of D-Nice.
Grade- B

9. Who Protects Us From You?

This is another fast paced song, but it makes its points very well: while we were "protected" from the police force, who is/was protecting us from them? KRS asks this question and points out some of the inconsistencies and contradictions when it comes to law enforcement in general. It may come off as simple as possible, but it's very effective.
*Grade- A

10. You Must Learn

"What do you mean when you say I'm rebellious/Cause I don't accept everything that you're tellin' us!"

"It seems to me that in a school that's Ebony/African history should be pumped up steadily/But it's not, and it's got to stop"

"I believe that if you're teachin' history/Deal wit straight up facts, no mystery/Teach the student what needs to be taught/Cause black and white kids both take shorts/When one doesn't know about the other one's culture/Ignorance swoops down like a vulture"

Wow, this was powerful in 1989 and it's still powerful today. KRS calls out the school system(s) and their lack of presenting/teaching the facts when it came to African American history. In addition to the quotable lines above, KRS also mentions additional facts when it came to Blacks that most didn't know then and probably still don't know today:

*Benjamin Banneker invented the almanac
*Granville Woods made the walkie-talkie
*Charles Drew did a lot for medicine
*Garrett Morgan made the traffic lights
*Harriet Tubman freed the slaves at night
 *Madame CJ Walker made a straightening comb

And the entire point of this classic, as said by KRS, was:


Again, all of this is so powerful and relevant 25 years later.
*Grade- A+

11. Hip Hop Rules

I really liked this appropriately titled song. In the first verse, KRS gives a brief history lesson, talking about how and when hip hop got its start, also laughing at the naysayers who thought rap music would turn out to be a "fad" like Disco was, just to name one genre; it would only get bigger as the 1990s emerged. He also brings back the "reggae flow" for this one.
*Grade- B+

12. Bo! Bo! Bo!

 This one finds KRS again implementing the reggae style with the hip hop sound, bringing a good bit of storytelling too, detailing his encounter with a police officer.
*Grade- B

13. Gimme, Dat, (Woy) 

The only thing I have to say about this song is that "the teacha was in full effect effect over a straight up dope beat."
*Grade- A

14. Ghetto Music

I get what KRS was aiming for here, but this comes across as something far from a "ghetto type" sound. In fact, it's much more upbeat in its lyrics and production than anything on this album, and the first two BDP albums quite frankly.
*Grade- C

15. World Peace

It was not uncommon for MCs at the time to call for world peace. KRS asks, either world talk or world peace? In many ways, this question is still asked today. Very good way to close the album.
*Grade- B+

It's clear that this album is not on the level of "Criminal Minded" and "By All Means Necessary," but it's still pretty damn good on its own. Classics such as "Jack Of Spades," "Why Is That," and "You Must Learn" ensures its place in hip hop history. KRS and BDP would remain relevant and at the top of their game heading into the 1990s. Overall, the album deserved its certified Gold status, coming 3 months after its release.

Final Grade- B+

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